Scottish voluntary sector misses out on training as councils sit on funding

Scottish local authorities are failing to pass on funding earmarked for training voluntary sector staff to providers, it was claimed last week.

Councils should face a legal obligation to do so if they do not change their ways, the Community Care Providers Scotland (CCPS) conference was told.

The call – from an MSP – follows warnings from service providers that, unless councils begin releasing the £23m funding, their staff will struggle to meet minimum training standards to register with the Scottish Social Services Council.

Euan Robson, a member of the Scottish parliament’s health committee and Liberal Democrat MSP, warned that councils may  have to be forced to pass on the money.

He said: “The training money was put into the system…to be shared with the voluntary sector. It is disappointing to hear that hasn’t happened. Councils should be [forced to] if they are not co-operating.”

The three-year funding agreement was negotiated by CCPS, which represents voluntary providers, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) and the Scottish executive 18 months ago and included in the councils’ overall grant allocation from the executive.

The final £13.3m tranche is available from next April.

Providers say information requests to councils have found no evidence of money being passed on.

Robert Farquharson, director of learning difficulties social enterprise The Action Group, told the conference: “The money has disappeared into authorities’ budgets. Cosla tells us the money was never ring-fenced so we were naive.”

But Annie Gunner, director of CCPS, said the group was in talks with Cosla over a “collective approach to encouraging  councils to spend the money on the purposes it was intended for”.

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